OPINION: If I took a hundred businesses like yours and read all your websites, blogs, and social media posts, what would make yours stand out among them?
Old marketing ideas revolved around “who has the biggest budget wins”. Now anyone can grow a business and capture their ideal audience with an original (and cohesive) message. For small business owners, the easiest and cheapest way to stand out is to create a personal brand aligned with your business and show off your own personality, ideas and thoughts. It will naturally attract other people who align with your values and your way of thinking.
Finding information on the Internet is easy. A few clicks on Google, and we have pages of content we can browse. The goal is to make you one of the people your ideal clients are looking for information. When we do it right, we start to build a client base of people who trust us, want to work with us, or recommend us.
To create this kind of content, we need to engage ourselves in a model of learning and development. But this is not enough. To create your own style and your own way of speaking, you need to turn this information into something unique to you.
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This year, I’ve created more content across more platforms consistently than ever before. But I also almost lost my own voice and my own style, which sets me apart from all other marketers and content creators. I took a huge learning curve around video and tried to crack the code to make a few social media platforms work to help our clients.
In doing so, I filled my head with too many other voices and ideas, and I started to lose my own critical thinking skills around “What works for me,” “What works best for our clients “” How can I make this more accessible to our customers and our community? “
What happened to me is so common and can happen to any of us when we try to learn new ways of doing things and spend too much time trying to emulate others as we go. and as we adapt and change. Losing that voice stifled my creativity, stemmed the flow of ideal clients for a time, and made me question my own ability to connect with my community.
Our job is to become a voice (and a face) that people recognize and then allow them to consciously turn to us or to turn away. That’s it. It is the foundation of a personal brand.
Several years ago I developed a model called ARMED, which helps me both create original content and teach our clients to do the same.
Before I dive into my ARMED process, I must state that I come from a long line of pacifists and that using this anagram bothers my head a bit, even though it’s my own making! However, I am using the word ARMED in a completely non-destructive way in this situation. (Thanks for letting me explain myself!)
Creating original content is almost impossible. Even with new technological changes constantly, thousands of people are producing the same material, often faster than any of us can.
However, the way we can stand out and remember is by creating content that offers an original perspective or describes an idea in a new way. This is what I do when I use phrases like “Be a goat in a tree”, “Be a spider, build a web” and “You can’t kill a man with your face” in my marketing. I help people understand and remember concepts they may not have grasped before. I break down the areas my clients are having obstacles in and help them apply for their business, and I also help find the people who like the way I explain things.
We all have our own methods of explaining ideas or describing products. Our words help people paint a picture of expectations, and when we share our own thoughts, we naturally attract people who like the way we think.
I follow a lot of people in my industry, but only if they are people who inspire me, improve my creativity, and help me learn without giving me an uncomfortable feeling at the base of my stomach. I try not to follow local competitors, because I want to make sure that I am not influenced by their content, and start creating content that is either similar or a defensive reaction.
I want to be inspired. I want to learn. I know my best ideas will often come from someone else’s idea, content, or knowledge. I also know my content will do that for someone else too. This is the essence of being ARMED.
Here is how it works:
I am a sponge when it comes to information. I spend time on social media platforms reading and learning. I take snapshots of good ideas and make notes of them. I look at testimonials from knowledgeable people. I have an audible subscription and try to listen to one book per month. I listen to a podcast on my walk every morning. I absorb, I learn and I absorb everything.
To create, you must have something to build from.
One of the biggest mistakes newbies to creating content make after learning it is copying the work. They can change a few colors, and maybe a few words, but the job is basically the same. It’s boring and it’s jumpable.
It’s because they missed an important step in the creative process. Time to think.
When I listen to a podcast, I take a break and take notes. Sometimes these are direct quotes, or ideas. If I then jump online and start using them, and don’t credit them to the source, I’m a thief.
Instead, I take the notes out, and then take them out a few weeks later. My head is no longer filled with the voice and nuances of the original speaker. I am looking at what I wrote (and I hope it is not something like “asnOICNAEI DNVIEFNVA Dandd; ngrj” that can happen if I try to write while walking, and I am thinking about this idea in relation to to my values, my clients and my community.
Now is the time to edit this content and make it mine.
The sayings I use allow me to modify a message to tell a story in my own way. I could just say “Be more confident to show your face to the camera”, but it’s funnier and more memorable to say “You never killed a man with your face”. “Be a Spider, Build a Website” is more interesting than “How to Create a Content Strategy”.
Editing the message helps the message become your own. As it spreads people will recognize it as yours. I have followers who send me spider videos, web stories. They also use it to describe their marketing activity to others. This is when I know the message is blocked.
Once we have our message, we are ready to express it, and we have to over and over again
To explain “Be a Spider, Build a Website,” I shot short videos, long videos, told stories in webinar presentations, created unique articles, created infographics, and even wrote a few songs! I am about to send a book with this title to publishers in January. I have the message in all its forms.
We don’t want to use the information just once, we want to maximize all of our hard work.
We take the content and find all the ways we can use it in our marketing. It’s surprising how little new information you need to create over and over again. You might just need a couple of key ideas and then figure out a way to get them across the internet over and over again.
You can post a short video on Instagram, Tiktok and YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, and Linkedin. One content, on six different platforms. Then create an image with the concept and post it on Instagram, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn, use it in an email and possibly as an image for a blog post on the same topic.
This blog post could go to your website, be placed on Linkedin and a blog site like Medium, be linked to an email, and also be linked to Facebook, Linkedin and Pinterest
We could then read the blog post and make it a longer video, and post that as well.
As you grow your business, the deep ideas stay with you, but the parts of expression and distribution can be easily outsourced, allowing you to develop when, when, and how you get your ideas out there.
This is how you stand out from a hundred companies like yours. You just need to make sure you ARM yourself first.
Rachel Klaver is a marketing strategist specializing in lead generation and content marketing. She owns Identify Marketing, which works with businesses to create the strategy they need to better tell their story to the right people. Tune in to his weekly MAP IT Marketing podcast – created to help small business owners learn about marketing.
Identifier Marketing is a content partner with Stuff for specialist small business information. Find Rachel’s events here.